I Went Nowhere


I’ve been on vacation this week and spent it getting reacquainted with my old friend, solitude. After making breakfast and packing lunches and smoothies for my loved ones, I sent them off with a kiss to their jobs and my pup and I stayed home.

I love my gal and my guy but I cherish solitude. I love my job requiring me to talk to people but going a whole day without speaking to a soul is bliss. I’m overdue for visits with many beloved friends but I made no plans for lunch or coffee. This week, I indulged my neglected introvert.

Just for fun I took one of those goofy online tests to see whether I am an introvert or extrovert. I’m both. I love meeting new people, talk easily and with pleasure with anyone — but my need for solitude is important enough for me to get out of bed ridiculously early so I have some time alone. I’m grateful my loved ones are big sleepers more inclined to stay in bed till noon than worry about getting any worms. Mornings belong to Tetley and me and even he usually goes back for a nap after his quick morning outing.

During this week’s abundance of alone time, I did experience some pangs. I remembered the other side of the coin: the loneliness of being alone. It’s a fine line. In my pre-family past, when I lived alone, I often felt an ache of longing – to have someone in my life, wanting love, to be wanted, needed. Rarely did I own up to this, sure it was a sign of weakness, of being a loser, of not fitting my self-image – or at least the one I hoped to cultivate. I’d take lovers anyone else could spot would not be right for me, sure they’d fill the spot I’d reserved. With varying degrees of drama, these affairs crashed and burned. I marveled at my mated friends – envied their sense of being a unit even when they squabbled. Okay, then maybe not so much – I know how lonely it can be even when someone is sleeping next to you.

I used to hate the feeling of loneliness. Now I recognize the pangs of desolation as first steps on the road to where I like to be, as a sign I’m going in the right direction on the way to get somewhere interesting. It may be tough to climb the mountain, but how great the view is. I understand better how to dive into this place of alone.


Being good at solitude is a little like a muscle and if you don’t use it, you lose it. For me, it’s the same group of muscles I use to create. My best work grows from a quiet place deep within me – a whole different terrain than the day to day business of being in the world, going to my job, being an extrovert. Like all of my muscles, I want to keep this one limber, the one that gets me to a quiet place where I can best hear what’s really going on.

It was a good week. I went nowhere.

The Waves and Just Being

first beach

I’ve spent my 2 recent vacations this summer, in a torpor. Nary a dust bunny disappeared, weeds continued unhindered around the garden and I barely wrote a word here or anywhere. I simply read and watched the birds. Of course all the while beating myself up for being unproductive since there is so much that needs doing and I rarely have enough time in my usual day-to-day to do it all.


R rescued me from this cloud of guilt by sweeping me off to the beach for a few days. What’s there to do but watch and sometimes venture into waves? We spent hours with our toes in the sand, barely speaking a word, only smiling at each other between reading, dozing, people watching and dreaming. Bliss.

beach with people

Although I brought my computer with a vague notion I might wake early and write, I did not. I barely checked my time-sucking phone for tweets and updates I really didn’t need or want. Staring at the sea and the parade of tattoo covered skin (is there anyone left on the planet who doesn’t have ink?) for hours on end was a bit like getting my mental hard-drive cleaned, the constant roar of waves washing away everything. I read and read and read, bathing in the breezes, the waves, the sun. I did something I haven’t done for years: I had a short and very sweet actual vacation.

beach grass and stones

I recently heard a radio interview on On Being with Social Psychologist Ellen Langer about mindfulness. When you have time, listen for some refreshing insight and inspiration. Langer speaks, in this great NY (I think) accent, about cultivating mindfulness in daily life through the simple act of just noticing things. This clicked with me since I seem to have a hard time maintaining a meditation routine for very long. Crazy these requirements I set up for myself of what I think I should be doing to get from A to B in my life. Do you do this? Are we crazy?

day waves

As I ready to return to work tomorrow, the sound of the waves still echo and that is enough.

night waves


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